Scott McLaughlin scores first career IndyCar victory in St. Pete Grand Prix


ST PETERSBURG, Florida — Scott McLaughin backed up the speed of his first career pole position with his first NTT IndyCar Series victory Sunday, winning the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg over defending series champion Alex Palou and teammate Will Power.

McLaughlin, 28, led the final 21 laps after inheriting the lead on a pit stop by fellow New Zealander Scott Dixon, who was on a different strategy.

He fended off a furious charge by Palou after the defending series champion was helped by McLaughlin getting held up by Jimmie Johnson, Palou’s Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, with 12 laps remaining.

STATS PACKAGE: Results, points and box score from St. Pete

But McLaughlin, who led 49 of 100 laps, held on after losing 2 seconds off his lead after Palou got within a car length.

“I’m exhausted,” McLaughlin told NBC Sports’ Marty Snider. “What a day. I’m out of breath here. It was crazy. I really struggled the last couple of laps to keep my head and save the fuel, but we did it. It’s unreal. Love you in Australia and New Zealand and miss you guys.”

It was the second consecutive season for a first-time winner in the season opener as McLaughlin joined Palou, who won at Barber Motorsports Park last year.

It was close,” Palou said. “It was really, really close, but I don’t think we had the pace he had today. He was on rails, and he knew where to go fast and where to obviously save some fuel at the end. I was just there trying to make some pressure so hopefully he made a mistake or anything, but no, he was all good.

“Congrats to him. I’m super happy that he got his first win. Yeah, I’m happier that we got our first podium of the year.”

It was only the second podium finish in 18 IndyCar starts for McLaughlin, a three-time Australian Supercars champion who had a best finish of second at Texas last year.

After placing 14th in the points during a quiet rookie season, he entered the 2022 vowing to take a more vocal role on and off the track for Team Penske — and he accomplished both in his first race of the season.

“Oh, I can’t believe it,” said McLaughlin, whose family remains in New Zealand and Australia because of pandemic restrictions. “Mom and dad, my sister, I know you guys are watching at home.”

Colton Herta finished fourth, followed by Romain Grosjean, Rinus VeeKay, Graham Rahal, Scott Dixon, Marcus Ericsson and Takuma Sato.

After McLaughlin dominated in leading the first 25 laps, the race’s complexion changed with its only caution when rookie David Malukas hit the Turn 3 wall.

McLaughlin led a parade of lead-lap cars into the pits, which cycled Alexander Rossi (the only driver who had yet to stop) into the lead ahead of Dixon, Pato O’Ward, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Kyle Kirkwood, Felix Rosenqvist, Devlin DeFrancesco, Dalton Kellett, Jack Harvey, Rinus VeeKay and Callum Ilott.

McLaughlin was in 13th as the first driver out of the pits.

The race stayed caution-free after that, and McLaughlin cycled back into first on Lap 62. After his second and final pit stop, McLaughlin moved back into first on Lap 80 when Dixon made his third stop.

Traditionally known for a plethora of yellows and wrecks on the tight downtown street course, the season opener was unusually clean Sunday.

But Lap 1 produced its usual drama into the Turn 1 right-hander as a record-tying 26 cars scrambled for position at the first corner.

The big mover was Pato O’Ward, who zoomed from 16th to ninth on the first lap with a series of bold inside-outside passes through the first two turns.

Winner Josef Newgarden earns $3.666 million from a record Indy 500 purse of $17 million


INDIANAPOLIS — The first Indy 500 victory for Josef Newgarden also was the richest in race history from a record 2023 purse of just more than $17 million.

The two-time NTT IndyCar Series champion, who continued his celebration Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earned $3.666 million for winning the 107th running of the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.

The purse and winner’s share both are the largest in the history of the Indianapolis 500.

It’s the second consecutive year that the Indy 500 purse set a record after the 2022 Indy 500 became the first to crack the $16 million mark (nearly doubling the 2021 purse that offered a purse of $8,854,565 after a crowd limited to 135,000 because of the COVID-19 pandemic).

The average payout for IndyCar drivers was $500,600 (exceeding last year’s average of $485,000).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Roger Penske, whose team also fields Newgarden’s No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet, had made raising purses a priority since buying the track in 2020. But Penske but was unable to post big money purses until the race returned to full capacity grandstands last year.

The largest Indy 500 purse before this year was $14.4 million for the 2008 Indy 500 won by Scott Dixon (whose share was $2,988,065). Ericsson’s haul made him the second Indy 500 winner to top $3 million (2009 winner Helio Castroneves won $3,048,005.

Runner-up Marcus Ericsson won $1.043 million after falling short by 0.0974 seconds in the fourth-closest finish in Indy 500 history.

The 107th Indy 500 drew a crowd of at least 330,000 that was the largest since the sellout for the 100th running in 2016, and the second-largest in more than two decades, according to track officials.

“This is the greatest race in the world, and it was an especially monumental Month of May featuring packed grandstands and intense on-track action,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “Now, we have the best end card possible for the 107th Running of the Indianapolis 500: a record-breaking purse for the history books.”

Benjamin Pedersen was named the Indy 500 rookie of the year, earning a $50,000 bonus.

The race’s purse is determined through contingency and special awards from IMS and IndyCar. The awards were presented Monday night in the annual Indy 500 Victory Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Indianapolis.

The payouts for the 107th Indy 500:

1. Josef Newgarden, $3,666,000
2. Marcus Ericsson, $1,043,000
3. Santino Ferrucci, $481,800
4. Alex Palou, $801,500
5. Alexander Rossi, $574,000
6. Scott Dixon, $582,000
7. Takuma Sato, $217,300
8. Conor Daly, $512,000
9. Colton Herta, $506,500
10. Rinus VeeKay, $556,500
11. Ryan Hunter‐Reay, $145,500
12. Callum Ilott, $495,500
13. Devlin DeFrancesco, $482,000
14. Scott McLaughlin, $485,000
15. Helio Castroneves, $481,500
16. Tony Kanaan, $105,000
17. Marco Andretti, $102,000
18. Jack Harvey, $472,000
19. Christian Lundgaard, $467,500
20. Ed Carpenter, $102,000
21. Benjamin Pedersen (R), $215,300
22. Graham Rahal, $565,500*
23. Will Power, $488,000
24. Pato O’Ward, $516,500
25. Simon Pagenaud, $465,500
26. Agustín Canapino (R), $156,300
27. Felix Rosenqvist, $278,300
28. Kyle Kirkwood, $465,500
29. David Malukas, $462,000
30. Romain Grosjean, $462,000
31. Sting Ray Robb (R), $463,000
32. RC Enerson (R), $103,000
33.  Katherine Legge, $102,000

*–Broken down between two teams, $460,000 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, $105,500 Dreyer & Reinbold Racing/Cusick Motorsports